“Let Sleeping Cats Die”
In 2006, production began on Hello Kitty’s new television series, “The Adventures of Hello Kitty & Friends”. Within 2 months of filming, Hello Kitty began to crack under the pressure of the show’s demanding production schedule and late night taping, in addition to her already numerous merchandising duties. On October 3rd 2006, Hello Kitty suffered a complete meltdown on set during the taping of the 2 part Christmas special, “Where’s Santa?” She went on a 5-minute tirade, chewing out co-star, Keroppi, for stepping on one of her lines, following which she proceeded to assault the assistant director with a boom mic. The show was put on hiatus while Hello Kitty received professional medical and psychological help. Hello Kitty was placed on several different prescriptions from various doctors including, Diazepam for anxiety, Temazepam for her sleep disorders, Alprazolam for her depression, along with painkillers Oxycodone and Hydrocodone. The show resumed production on October 20th, but the cast and crew again faced many difficulties due to Hello Kitty’s increasingly erratic behavior and mood swings. In a blog post from February 2007, co-star Badtz Maru wrote, “She [Hello Kitty] is out of control! If she’s not completely zonked out, she’s swinging at the fences. Half the time she can’t remember her lines, let alone where she even is. It’s all the dope. She’s popping a different pill between every take. She’s got a whole pharmacy worth of ‘em in a Pez dispenser.” Merchandising with Sanrio also suffered, as Hello Kitty’s increasingly bizarre and unpredictable behavior, weight gain, and inconsistent professionalism caused major delays in the production of the brand’s upcoming summer line of apparel. Hello Kitty eventually became so unreliable, that the Sanrio design team skipped the photo shoots with Hello Kitty and began to draw her on to the merchandise. Hello Kitty sunk even lower into the depths of addiction and dependency in April when Sanrio had placed her on a paid suspension while she went through a mandatory inpatient detox and rehabilitation program at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, California, United States. Hello Kitty initially met the company’s demands with refusal, but she later agreed following an intervention with her fellow Sanrio co-stars on April 11. Later, during a 2008 interview, Sanrio puppy character, Pochacco, recalled the intervention as “an extremely emotional moment for all of us. Yes, we were at our wits end with her, but she was family and we loved her. We were all in tears by the end.” Hello Kitty requested to spend the evening alone in her Tokyo home to pack for her stay at the US clinic. Sanrio agreed and told her a limo would pick her up in the morning to take her to the airport. Hello Kitty never got in the limo. She was found that following morning in the bathroom of her home, face down in a pool of her own vomit. The autopsy revealed a drug overdose of Klonopin, Ativan, Serax, and Valium. Additionally, she had taken Benadryl and Topamax, which contributed to the sedative effect of the benzodiazepines. She also had a blood alcohol content of 0.42%. An investigation determined the death to be suicide. A note was found on her table which simply read “I’m so sorry. I’m tired and I can’t do this anymore.” Her estimated time of death was between the hours of 9 pm and 10 pm on April 11 2007. In the wake of her death, Sanrio decided to pull the Hello Kitty highball glasses and Hello Kitty chewable vitamins for children off the market.